"Mujina" from the Wakan Sansai Zue

Mujina () is an old Japanese term primarily referring to the badger. In some regions the term refers instead to the raccoon dog (also called tanuki) or to introduced civets. Adding to the confusion, in some regions badger-like animals are also known as mami, and in one part of Tochigi Prefecture badgers are referred to as tanuki and raccoon dogs are referred to as mujina.

In reality

The confusion over the term mujina has led to legal consequences in Japan. In Tochigi Prefecture in 1924, a hunter killed a raccoon dog, which he believed to be called a mujina. He believed that badgers were a protected species as they were called tanuki in Tochigi Prefecture. However, the law banning the hunting of tanuki was referring to such raccoon dogs, as a raccoon dog is called tanuki in Tokyo. The Japanese Supreme Court ruled that the hunter was legitimately confused and he was judged not guilty.

In folklore

In Japanese folklore, like the fox and the tanuki, they are frequently depicted as a yōkai that shapeshifts and deceives humans. These badger demons (Mujina) often take the form of an attractive woman with a promiscuous nature, usually causing mischief in their partners lives. They are first seen in literature in the Nihon Shoki in the part about Empress Suiko's 35th year (627), where it states, "in two months of spring, there are mujina in the country of Mutsu (春2月、陸奥国に狢有り), they turn into humans and sing songs (人となりて歌う)" demonstrating that, in that era, there was the general idea that mujina shapeshift and deceive humans.[1] In the Shimōsa region, they are called kabukiri-kozō (かぶきり小僧), and they would shapeshift into a kozō (little monk) wearing a strangely short kimono with a kappa-like bobbed head, and frequently appear on roads at night without many people and say, "drink water, drink tea (水飲め、茶を飲め)."[2] The story in Lafcadio Hearn kaidan collections called "Mujina"[3] about the witnessing of a faceless ghost (a noppera-bō) is also well-known.

Sightings in Hawaii

On May 19, 1959, Honolulu Advertiser reporter Bob Krauss reported a sighting of a mujina at the Waialae Drive-In Theatre in Kahala. Krauss reported that the witness watched a woman combing her hair in the women's restroom, and when the witness came close enough, the mujina turned, revealing her featureless face. The witness was reported to have been admitted to the hospital for a nervous breakdown. Noted Hawaiian historian, folklorist and author Glen Grant, in a 1981 radio interview dismissed the story as rumor, only to be called by the witness herself, who gave more details on the event, including the previously unreported detail that the mujina in question had red hair.[4] The drive-in no longer exists, having been torn down to make room for Public Storage.

Grant has also reported on a number of other mujina sightings in Hawaii, from ‘Ewa Beach to Hilo.

Other uses

The term can also refer to the following:

See also


  1. 笹間良彦 (1994). 図説・日本未確認生物事典. 柏書房. pp. 120頁. ISBN 978-4-7601-1299-9.
  2. 小川景 (November 1939). "妖怪其他". 民間伝承. 民間伝承の会. 第5巻 (第2号): 9.
  3. Monsters You Never Heard Of!: THE MUJINA by Michael D. Winkle. Accessed 3/7/08
  4. THE FACELESS WOMAN MUJINA. Source: B. Krauss, "Faceless Ghost". Accessed online 03/07/08
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